Jun 01, 2015

70% of U.S. Adults Report Digital Eye Strain: How to Prevent It

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More than ever, we see extensive use of computers, television, tablets and smart phones.  A report produced by The Vision Council says nearly 70% of U.S. adults experience some form of digital eye strain. Although 60% of adults spend more than six hours in front of digital devices daily, 41% have never tried to reduce the digital eye strain. If you're one of the nearly four in 10 millennials or one-third of Gen Xers that spend at least nine hours on a digital device each day, you could be putting the health of your eyes at serious risk. Here are some tips on digital eye strain and how to prevent it.

The simplest way to try and avoid digital eye strain is take breaks from staring at your computer screen as often as you can. However, guidelines differ on exactly how often you should take a break from your display.

For example, The Canadian Ministry of Labor suggests a five–minute break away from computer operation for every hour worked.

The UK's Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations states that visual display unit users should be given "short, frequent breaks," as they are "more satisfactory" than occasional, longer breaks. The HSE suggests a 5-10 minute break after 50-60 minutes continuous screen and/or keyboard work.

If you struggle to remember to take breaks, to try and get into a routine of doing so, you could set a timer to remind you.

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of digital eye strain include:

  • Dry Eyes
  • Blurred Vision
  • Headaches
  • Neck, Back, and Shoulder Pain

Preventive Measures

  1. Adjust the brightness of devices and change background colors from bright white to cool gray. Attaching a glare reduction filter to a computer screen can be beneficial
  2. Reduce glare by keeping screens dust-free
  3. Adjust the screen so that it is directly in front and slightly below eye level
  4. Position the device for sufficient distance (20-26“) between eye and screen
  5. Use an adjustable chair
  6. Choose screens that can tilt and swivel
  7. Use a document holder. Position close enough to prevent considerable head movement or change in eye focus
  8. Use lights that reduce glare and reflection
  9. Reduce the amount of overhead and surrounding light that is competing with the devices screen
  10. Increase text size to better define the content on the screen and adjust settings until your eyes feel comfortable
  11. Blink often. Staring at screens can effect blinking frequency which causes eyes to dry
  12. The Vision Council advocates a "20-20-20 break": Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
  13. Visit an eye doctor for an eye exam to detect any potential vision issues

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Thanks to our friends at Mashable for some of the content in this piece.